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This post highlights a simple, useful feature that's crept onto most of the UK's largest e-commerce sites over the last couple of years, with no real coverage. 

"The promo strip" is not new, but has slowly caught on to the point it's almost standard for high street retailers, yet still fairly rare on smaller sites. 

promo strip

It's a very useful addition from both the customer perspective (quickly informative without being overbearing) and from the brand perspective (conversion orientated without being overbearing!). 

There are 12 examples below, including variations on the central idea.

The Promo Strip

Here's an example of the most basic version, from Play.com:

promo strip

That's it. A simple strip of key information that appears under the top navigation of a site, performing a roughly similar function as a direct mail Johnson Box.

Sometimes these promote key selling points of the site or the brand itself, other times they highlight current promotions, though really they're a nice way to display info that you want *every* visitor to the site to see.

The benefits of placing these under the top navigation are:
  1. They appear on every page, so no matter where someone lands on the site they see it.
  2. Even if visitors are on a low screen resolution, they still see it immediately.
  3. The top navigation is where visitors are looking, so - whether they register it consciously or not - almost everyone sees it. 

11 More Examples

Below are 11 more examples of the trend. In each screengrab, the promo strip is highlighted in green. 

John Lewis

John Lewis - Promo Strip

There's a theme among the biggest retailers to use the strip for delivery messaging. 

John Lewis promote their 'free delivery' threshold, their 'click to collect' & 'international delivery' info, along with their famous 'Never Knowingly Undersold'.

Evans

Evans Promostrip

Evans follow the trend with Delivery & Returns information, but also include a call to action to sign up to their email list. 

Topshop

Topshop - Promostrip

Again, Topshop opt for the 'Free UK Delivery' & an 'international delivery' promo.

House of Fraser

House of Fraser Strip

House of Fraser copycat John Lewis (or maybe it was the other way round) with 'store collection', 'free delivery', and 'international delivery' all promoted prominently here.

Debenhams

Debenhams - Promo Strip

And again, Debenhams follows along with Free Delivery, store collection, and international delivery.

Interesting variations on the theme:

Other than the standard 'free delivery over £XX, pick up in store', here are a few variations from retailers who've gone a little further.

Marks & Spencer

 Marks & Spencer - Promo Strip

M&S step things up nicely from their competitors, showing international and UK delivery info, but also highlighting current promotions in an area every site visitor will see.

M&S almost always has sales on some areas of the site, and this allows the retailer to flag these to everyone who lands on the site.

Boux Avenue:

Boux Avenue - Promo Strip

Another retailer showing their delivery and returns info, but Boux Avenue is worth a mention as - whereas other retailers have lumped the promo strip on top of their existing design - Boux have folded it very neatly in with the overall look/theme of the site. 

Naked Wines

Naked Wines - Promo Strip

Naked's version differs slightly from others. Firstly, it's above the navigation. Secondly, it introduces some urgency and a deadline with their 'Order in the next XX minutes for next day delivery' call to action.

Penhaligon's

 Penhaligons - Promo Strip

Penhaligon's fill this area of dead space in its layout with 'free delivery' info, but also - very usefully for a heavily gifted brand - promotes its free gift wrapping service here.

Pen Heaven

Pen Heaven - Promo Strip

As with Naked Wines, Pen Heaven again focuses on urgency, offering same day engraving for orders before a particular time. It also features customer reviews heavily here; great for a smaller brand that visitors may not have heard of. 

Kiddicare

Kiddicare is probably the UK's leading baby product website. it also leads the way here with its promo strip.

First, it beats out all of the standard 'delivery' promos, with next day delivery in '1 hour slots'. Second, it shows off the 365 day return policy. Third, Kiddicare offers a price match promise:

Taking it far further, the retailer has added these strips down either side of the main content:

Kiddicare - Side Strips 

These strips are hidden if you're on a smaller resolution (eg 1024x768). For anyone on a larger monitor, they reinforce the price match & fast despatch, but also show off their many awards, and promote their 119,000 product reviews.

Summary

As you can see, these have popped up all over the place. They're a very simple addition to highlight features or info you want to show off to all of your visitors.

If you run an e-commerce site, and haven't already tried this, it's worth testing. If you're already running this with the bog standard 'free delivery over £xx', it's worth trialing some other ideas to see the impact they have. There are some nice extensions to this too: personalising them to include discount codes depending on traffic source, etc.

If you're willing to A/B test it, it's probably worth paying more attention to the impact it has on 'new visitors' or first time buyers, rather than your overall conversion rate.

Do leave a comment if you've seen any other interesting examples of this, or had any experience yourself around results. 

dan barker

Published 9 February, 2012 by dan barker

Dan Barker is an E-Business Consultant and a contributor to Econsultancy. He can also be found on Twitter and Google Plus

10 more posts from this author

Comments (17)

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Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & Director of Optimisation at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Great article Dan, highlighting something which I have been talking about and presenting ideas on over the last 12 months.

The promo strip is a great example of a design pattern which I am seeing users actively engage with during user testing sessions.

Your summary of the benefits of this feature is spot on too...

"It's a very useful addition from both the customer perspective (quickly informative without being overbearing) and from the brand perspective (conversion orientated without being overbearing!)"

Picking up on the Naked Wines example you have provided, they have in fact featured this countdown timer since they launched their site, and its a superb way to deliver a persuasive technique (creating a sense of urgency) to which you can almost guarantee all site visitors will see, even if only sub-consciously.

A quick recommendation I make to retailers when they are implementing these strips is to not try cramming too many messages in the space. If you compare John Lewis to Pen Heaven or Kiddicare, it takes less effort to scan the latter two sites messages, along with them using visual elements to help differentiate the messages.

Thanks again for a great post!

over 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Thanks, Paul! And great advice.

Interestingly, I don't think the Naked Wines design had it from the start. I could be wrong, but I think this was their original: http://bit.ly/originalnw

I think that makes a nice point too - it's really useful to test this kind of thing to find out what works for your site, your audience, and your business needs.

Thanks again!

dan

over 4 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Agree on your point that its been quietly bubbling away on many e-com sites without too much focus. Very useful *when* used in the right way.

One thing I've not seen is contextualising and personalising this area - there are pros and cons associated with this but used correctly, you could use profile data on the user (ie first visit, categories browsed etc) to provide some persuasive prompting; e.g. for a first time visitor provide generic deliver/returns/click & collect/etc info and start tailoring the message as a visitor moves from first time to a potential customer, to becoming a customer etc... and then within things that fit your brand such as male/female (like the M&S example, simply choosing whether to display the Men's or Women's Trouser Offer)

over 4 years ago

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Dan Ball

Great article Dan!

They are fantastic examples of persuading the user without bombarding them with too much information.

I couldn't agree more with Paul about the scanning the messages. How adding a bit of colour to break the different messages down alongside more leading text.

Another great example of this is ASOS, they really are fantastic and persuading through out the customer journey.

over 4 years ago

Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

Interesting to see so many retailers using the bar to promote their delivery offerings. Perhaps it's because most of their customers are familiar with their wider propositions so they don't need to push the 'why choose us' message. I'd advocate using the bar to push the key USPs for the business, particularly for smaller, less well known retailers fighting to make their mark.

It would be interesting to see eye tracking studies or survey people using sites featuring promo bars to see if the content registers with them or not. Given that the bar is likely to be in their eyeline as they journey through the site, I'd wager that it registers subconsciously even if they dont actively read it.

over 4 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

Very interesting indeed. Thanks, Dan.

I think it's very good when patterns like these start to emerge. As with top navigation and side navigation (or email address then password for login as an even more common one) it helps if new visitors have some expectation of where some things may be.

I agree with Albie that the 'why choose us' message is very important too. Not one of these examples does much along those lines. I think they're assuming everyone will recognise them, which is no longer a safe bet.

But in fact I think a USP message need to be bigger and more prominent than these strips.

One question for Paul: you mention people engaging with these strips in usability tests. Was that just mentioning them in 'think out loud' or actually clicking, please?

I'm reassured either way, because all too often I find people manage to miss even prominent messages. But I'm also slightly concerned if someone's first reaction when landing on a site was to click for details on something like this, even if it does demonstrate a keen commercial intent!

over 4 years ago

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Robert "Butch" Greenawalt

In most instances it was displayed on the main page and as the writer pointed out it can appear on all pages. I believe it could be very useful as it is an upsell on the checkout page. #opinion.

It distracts from the natural flow of the menu and home page flow and would cause most consumers to pause just long enough to wonder why they are there and leave.

A more interesting study Albie would be a correlation between eye tracking and conversion rates as while I certainly agree it's a great idea it's the type of distraction that can potentially loose a customer if over used.

It would be unusual that something like this would have been incorporated into the original design of the site and as such adding it afterwords without breaking up the natural flow of the original design would be difficult.

I think it's an excellent way to drawer additional value to your site but only if used in moderation and where a customer might naturally expect to see it.

Very nice article Dan

Cheers, Robert

over 4 years ago

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Rich

I've done some research around this area and have started to call them confidence banners, since they often don't aim to directly convert with a call to action, merely instill confidence in the customer making them more likely to make a purchase later on.

over 4 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

That's interesting Rich. What kind of research did you do?

Or is that a cheeky question? I'm not asking for intrusive detail, just the general type of thing!

over 4 years ago

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Rich

Not at all Tim! Mainly the importance and distinction between two types of banners we've come to identify as confidence banners and conversion banners. Also general practice in placement and functionality of each. Conversion banners usually being more prominent on a page and containing a direct call to action.

over 4 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

Thanks, Rich. I think I need to find some way of testing these as well.

over 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

If anyone has a chance to A/B test these (or has done so previously) it would be great to hear results. They seem like the perfect candidate for a very simple A/B test.

dan

over 4 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

And how about this:

http://www.americanbridal.com/

Note that combined search and promo strip. And then scroll down...

over 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

That's really interesting. Thanks, Tim!

Rackspace have the same 'pinned' top navigation, but I like the idea of doing it with just the strip/search. I wonder if it works for them. (a bit buggy for me - try scrolling with cursor keys)

over 4 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

Yes, I see what you mean. Pity.

I can also see another risk when scrolling back up. The visual clue of the horizontal bar might give the impression that someone has reached the top of the screen when they have not.

I wonder how to test? In the case of the search version it would be easy enough to assess increases in use of search. But if there's a negative effect because of confusion, how would we know...

over 4 years ago

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Dagostino

Great article. I am experiencing some of these issues as well.

.

over 3 years ago

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James Driver

I have been implementing these on ecommerce sites for years and believe it is such an underrated area. The only thing I find sometimes which can be a mistake is when the promo bar stands out too much and takes the focus away from the actual navigation. I really like the terminology of a "confidence bar". This implies it is there just to reassure the visitor that they are shopping on the correct site and will enjoy the experience. I really like the idea of personalizing it and tailoring it to different types of shoppers. This could be a fantastic opportunity. If anyone tests this I would love to see the results.

over 3 years ago

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